The struggle is real, and so is that smell. But, it’s nothing a couple of scented baby wipes can’t
fix cover m ask camouflage.
That smell? You probably know it; the guy on the bus, the girl on the train – possibly you. It’s a special bouquet of funk. A mix of traveler sweat (from hiking, trekking, long unair-conditioned bus rides in Morocco), coupled with clothes that aren’t quite clean, but “clean” enough, and let’s not forget pure adventure. It’s a small badge of honor for the backpacker; worn in place of deodorant.
When backpacking, there are many reasons showering can seem a distant dream, including but not limited to: camping, lack of hot water, sheer laziness, the desire for adventure above all else, but the most common reason, wishful thinking – thinking you could shower later, but later is a day or more away.
I can recall some very
distinky distinct examples where I may have gone a considerable amount of days without showering, i.e, Wadi Rum desert for 2 days or when I was sick from food poisoning and couldn’t be bothered; however, I want to #TBT to that time in Australia.
One crazy French girl (you know who you are – Asmae) and I decided to road trip up Australia’s east coast during winter, which took us seven weeks. Both of our budgets were on the skimpy side, so, we decided free camping and Couchsurfing would technically be the most “cost effective and experience enhancing” options – which they were.
Heading north, in the midst of our trip with the weather getting warmer, we began to camp regularly for convenience (and I must say we got pretty good at it). Sadly, free camps rarely offer showers, let alone hot water. Needless to say, rub-a-dub time was often deferred. We made plans to find a Couchsurfing host, as well as, tried to will the Universe to send us a free camp with hot water, but neither came to fruition. Still, we stayed positive and pledged that “tomorrow” would be the day *cue Rosie the Riveter arm* – wishful thinking. Tomorrow came on the 7th day.
Yes, I admit it, I did’t shower for a week!
It is the longest I have ever gone without a shower, though, as a kid, I can recall being told to bathe by the parental units, however, not being one to miss out on the fun, I simply splashed myself with some water and changed clothes – who knows how many times I did that in a week, but I digress. In any case, I have no shame.
Also, in our defense, within that week, we swam in fresh water lakes, utilized numerous baby wipes, deodorant, and most importantly, took solace in the knowledge that you can’t really smell your own odor (thank you olfactory adaptation).
Traveling is always a great adventure and not showering was an adventure all in itself. Never knowing when the next shower was coming or if my lady parts could sustain, it was like gambling. With great risk comes great rewards and that shower with the ever flowing hot water, felt like hitting the jackpot!
I have showered in a bathroom with heated floors and I have showered out of a bucket – I even once had a lovely village woman boil water on the fire to mix with the cold tap water – but, one very important thing I have learned in my 17 months of traveling around the world is that showering is a luxury (so is washing your clothes, but that’s another blog post). A luxury that not everyone gets to indulge in. So, the next time you step into your shower, be grateful for the luxurious hot water cascading down to your feet, and do a warm water fast splash for your friendly neighborhood backpacker.
A note to my fellow backpackers and budget travelers: Keep the faith. If you can’t find a hot shower, remember, there are gyms, public pools, baby wipes, and if your badge of honor is very strong, there may be a stranger out there waiting to offer you a place to wash your bum. Good luck!